161 Tasting Notes

This tea is all about the malt.

The leaves are pretty…like little black and gold threads. The dry leaves have a very potent smell. Sharp and malty. The smell is so powerful; I backed off the steeping time a little because I thought the tea would be too strong.

The initial taste is very flavorful, but all malt. Then, somehow, it disappears and the tea is just…tea. One second “malt explosion”…the next second “plain, regular tea”. There isn’t any of the chewy, caramel or raisin-y qualities that I somewhat expected. This is a perfect example of a tea that “needs more cowbell”. It’s a good tea. It’s just missing a little something extra to make it stand out. Hunan Black Buds is too thin…barely “medium bodied” in my opinion. I don’t think this tea could ever be bitter, no matter how long you steeped it. Big points for that. I’ll continue to play around with the parameters and see what happens. This isn’t a tea failure; it’s just a little disappointing.


Can you give us some hints on your brewing times and whether longer = better for this one?


This is on my list of things to try. I just received a tin of this like a week ago but have not yet opened it yet. Now I’m really curious. I will check back here and post my thoughts.


OK so I finally am halfway through my first cup and wanted to comment! To me this tea is definitely not a disappointment. The most discerning flavors I am getting is malt, fresh baked pound cake and maybe a little hint of raisins. It’s a very fine tea, maybe a little light on the body but that’s ok to me. I’ll post a tasting note in a little bit.

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drank Da Hong Pao by Harney & Sons
161 tasting notes

Monday morning tea success!

And much needed too! My office Bigwig will soon be arriving. You know the type, right? The Bigwig lives in a totally different state and has no idea how to do your job, yet is in charge of “suggesting” and then implementing their ideas on how to do your job better. Of course their “suggestions” only add to the number of steps you already take to do the exact same thing…thus causing a major pain in your butt and making you wish you could transport them back to their office…or better yet, some awful frozen tundra of doom? Yeah, I thought so.

So, how about this tea? :)

My first whiff of the liquor resulted in mostly roasty toasty notes, but also a light fruit smell. I’m not quite sure what type of fruit it is, but it’s juicy smelling. That’s right…juicy smelling. That same juicy note comes over in the taste as well, albeit in the aftertaste. The taste progression goes a little something like this: roasty toasty, mineral-y, OOLONG, juicy. The juicy effect actually made my mouth water. Crazyness. I’ve never had a roasted oolong quite like this one. It’s quite delicious. I’m glad I ordered a large tin. Nom nom nom!

More H&S to come!

Lainie Petersen

Harney & Sons is my go-to for good American-style black tea blends, but I need to start trying their oolongs. This sounds delish.


Good luck with the Bigwig! Nummy tea can only help!


Eww, Boo on Bigwigs! :)))


LOL…this tea is today’s Steepster Select!


lol sounds like we work in the same office, wishing I had some of this tea to take with me today.

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drank Dancong Aria by Adagio Teas
161 tasting notes

In honor of today’s Steepster Select, I’m drinking a cup of Dancong Aria. I honestly didn’t know that I had any until I noticed the “in cupboard” icon lit up. Oh cool…tea that I don’t remember buying. A sure sign of owning way too much leaf! :)

Dancong Aria is…different. It has a natural sweetness but also slips into a dryness like a white wine. There is sharpness to the smell and taste that I do not care for. Maybe it’s the notes of orchid? It’s just…“ok” in my book. sips Man, that astringency is killer. Dancong Aria is not smooth. I’ll just put this back into my “to be swapped” drawer.

On a happier note, I love reading all of the interviews for Adagio’s Roots Campaign. I wish more companies would do this. The tea tastes a little better if you know the story and people behind it.


LOL re a tea you don’t remember buying.

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drank Yunnan Golden Needle by Andao
161 tasting notes

Wonderful, wonderful tea. I could drink this every day. Delicious caramel-y, malty, and burnt sugar…-y flavors. Just plain good. Andao is 2 for 2 on awesome teas in my opinion. I finished up all of my oolong from them and this pack of Yunnan is about 1 cup from being gone. It would hurt me to de-cupboard them…so it looks like I’ll be placing an order tomorrow. Good thing it’s payday. :)

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drank Organic Wu Yi Rou Gui by Andao
161 tasting notes

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drank Golden Monkey by Teas Etc
161 tasting notes

Ahh, Golden Monkey. Peppery Yunnan goodness. Cute little leaves. Earthy yet sweet. The total package tea. You’re just what I needed. Time to place an order.


So, as I understand it, some Golden Monkey is Fujian, and some is grown in the Yunnan area. None of the distributors from which I’ve bought Golden Monkey have been emphatic about where their leaves are sourced, but given the range of flavors, I’m going to have to say that I think the region impacts the taste in a pretty significant way. The Golden Monkey I had from Teavana was vastly different from the stuff I got from Tao of Tea, which resembled the leaves in the Teas Etc. photo more (and may actually be the same stuff).


I’m very curious to know more about rebranding and repackaging teas. I’ve came across several that I KNOW are the exact same tea…just sold by different companies and re-named. While I understand the practice, I would really like to know the main company behind the tea/blend. I’d like to think I’m fairly honest with myself when I rate teas…but perhaps the name brand (and price) might sway tea drinkers in a certain direction. For example, Samovar might sell the exact same oolong as Golden Moon or Teas Etc, but because of the Samovar branding and lavish description/food pairings, etc…you might think of the tea as a little more upscale. Just my opinion.


You and me both! It begins to become especially problematic when you’re looking for pure leaf and not blends, and want to try different kinds of the same tea…but have shopped around enough to start running into the same leaf resold by a different company. It gets very difficult to tell whether or not you’re about to order something new to you!


This is such a great tea, I need to reorder some.

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drank Pu-Erh by Ten Ren's Tea
161 tasting notes

Holy bitter tea, Batman! This tea isn’t just bitter…it’s bidd-ah! Yikes! (And I drink my coffee black.)

The description says that the liquor should be “brilliant reddish brown”, but I’m getting opaque dark brown. Unless I hold it up to a light, it looks like a cup of black coffee…if not darker. The tea smells like most pu-erhs in my book. Sharp smoke with a thought of barnyard. Nothing fishy, thank goodness. The taste progression goes a little something like this: Bitter. Smoky. Barnyard…and finishes bitter and earthy. I also pick up some dark tobacco hints. Like a good maduro cigar before it is lit. Not bad for a pu-erh, but still not a tea that I’m in love with. This particular pu-erh tastes a little thin to me. Perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to chewy, bake-y teas. I’m not appalled, so I guess this can be seen as progress as my venture into the pu-erh world continues.

Thank you SoccerMom for your generous samples. I will be trying this again.


LOL it does look like coffee! I’m glad your not appalled it’s not my favorite either my mother in law took the rest off my hands last week and I was glad she did!

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It’s an Eight Immortals kind of day. I’m having nothing but problems with my customers today. Problems with my sales reps. Every phone call…a problem. I just found out that I’ve got to go back to Canada for a week next month. That’s cool and all, but I just got back from a week in New Jersey and I’m ready to chill out for a little while. Sorry, I’m nothing but complaints.

But the tea…is good. No complaints in that department. :) The first steep started my morning. The second steep went perfectly with my spicy Thai lunch. And I’ll start in on my third steep momentarily. I didn’t notice the oily feeling as much this time around…but it is “heavy” for an oolong. Eight Immortals has all the components I like in an oolong, but they are slightly muted. I could go with a little more boldness. But all in all, this is a very good oolong. I’m keeping the rating at 90.


I haven’t had anything from this company – been wanting to tho! :P


Oh man, you HAVE to check out their oolong section. It’s totally fantastic. I’ll probably place an order with them in a month or so. I’ll be sure to send you a few samples of what I get.


I hope that your day vastly improved! ::hugs::


I keep reading that as Eight Immorals…

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drank Golden Bi Luo by Chicago Tea Garden
161 tasting notes

After a full week of working in NJ, I am so happy to be home and surrounded by tea again. I have a quick story regarding this tea and airport security. I’ll start off by saying that I ALWAYS get pulled for “random” searches. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that my maiden name is Syrian. (I chose to hyphenate when I got married. Perhaps not the greatest idea in hindsight.) Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah…Random search, my ass! And I look white!…mostly. So I get pulled…they go through my purse, my laptop case, etc. In my purse they find my sample of Golden Bi Lou. I recently received the sample in the mail from Chicago Tea Garden and thought it would be a great size to take on my trip. I DID think to include the slip of paper that came with the tea. (I think this is the only thing that saved me.) While the airport security folks are rubbing various cotton swab pads on the inside of my purse, another security guy dangles the bag in front of me. I told him that it was tea. “Loose. Leaf. Tea.” I guess he’d never heard of it. He thought it was a type of drug. I told him about the slip of paper in my purse that describes the types of tea, steeping times and so on. I pointed out that there was a website on the slip that could further aid the situation. I don’t know if they went to the site or not, but about 5 minutes later they let me go. And I got to keep my tea!

That being said…I really did like this tea. The malty taste comforted me once I got back to my hotel and settled. Maybe it tasted better because of the ordeal I went through to bring it with me. This isn’t the heaviest Yunnan I’ve tasted, but it was quite pleasant. I think I prefer my Yunnan with a little more punch. There was a nice earthy taste and light sweetness to the tea, but I mostly remember the malt and the cute fuzzy leaves…and the fact that it never got bitter in the slightest. I’m very happy with this sample and curious about reading the posts from those that chose the Sticky Rice Pu-erh Toucha. That was the other tea I debated getting the sample of.

Side note: I love how the Golden Bi Lou leaves look! I keep staring at the picture on Steepster like it’s one of those “Magic Eye” prints that were big back in the day. It’s so cool that some of the leaves are in focus and the others are blurry. Great tea photo!


oh no, this doesn’t bode well for my trip to vegas! (in aug)


Oh no! I admit, I had to laugh a bit reading this but only because I anticipate the same thing happening to me when I fly with tea!


I like to swap with writing buddies when I travel, and I have always wondered if I would need to ask for a cup of hot water to prove what was in my little paper fill-it-yourself filters.


When you read about it it’s funny. However, when you actually are in such a situation it’s not so funny at all. Glad that at least the tea was good. :)


Lena, I’ll admit I did laugh for a second and then when “he waved the bag of tea in your face” I was like I know he he didn’t!!! LOL I do remember the black eye and I love the way this tea looks like little snails.

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lover of tea, travel, good food, nerdy stuff, tattoos, great danes, sushi, beer, netflix, UFC, reading…and of course, my kick-ass husband.



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